Construction workers face many risks on the job, and this is the main reason why the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulates construction sites so closely. These workers are more likely to fall from high heights than those in other lines of work.
Falling is a common cause of work-related deaths and injuries, and one of OSHA’s “Fatal Four,” which also includes caught-in/between hazards, electrocutions, and struck-by objects.
OSHA mandates that construction workers that work on surfaces elevated six or more feet, with unprotected edges, must have fall protection provided by their employers. Specifically, this means safety nets, guardrails, and safety harnesses, which are also called personal fall arrest systems. Employers are responsible for setting up and maintaining safe work environments, including these methods for fall prevention.
How Harnesses Work
When used properly, construction harnesses can safely stop workers as they are falling from a work level. They are designed with body harnesses, connectors, and anchor points (also called D-rings). Additional components can include a lifeline, lanyard, or a deceleration device.
OSHA stipulates that body belts or safety belts cannot be used as part of these harnesses; instead, snug straps are worn around the body and legs. The D-ring should be in the middle of the worker’s back.
These harnesses are tied or anchored to fixed structures that are above the worker’s bodies, and that can support up to 5,000 pounds of weight. They should never be tied off to small piping or electrical conduits.
The regulations also specify that the harnesses be strong enough to withstand two times the impact of a worker falling from six feet. All components should also be inspected before every use, and if defective, replaced.
Employers are also obligated to provide the safety harnesses when employees are working with scaffolding that is 10 or more feet above the ground, and without complete handrails. In addition, harness use is required for workers on roofs without handrails in certain cases, and near floor openings.
The workplace should be inspected for any possible hazards that can lead to falls. It is essential to determine what the fall distance is in preparing safety harnesses; this is accomplished by calculating the work surface height and lanyard length. This can be done by consulting the harness information from the manufacturer.
More on Safety
Safety harnesses are just one way that employers can protect their workers from serious falls. Construction sites should always be free of dangers. Floors and other surfaces must be kept clean and dry as much as possible. Any holes in the floor should be guarded with toe-boards, covers, and railings.
This also applies to open-sided, elevated platforms, and floors. If an employee is working in a location where there is any risk of falling onto any kind of machinery or equipment, toe-boards and guardrails must also be used.
When the danger of falling is present, the employer must make available protective equipment to the worker at no cost.
Philadelphia Construction Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Help Construction Accident Victims
If you have been seriously injured on a construction site, it is important to speak with an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. The Philadelphia construction accident lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC can help. Contact us online or call 215-569-8488 for a free case consultation. We serve clients throughout Pennsylvania, including Philadelphia, Chester County and Delaware County, as well as the states of Delaware and New Jersey.